What do successful apprenticeship outcomes look like for employers?


The majority of employers see apprenticeship completion as important, valuing the improved skills and experience it offers – but it’s not the only metric for success.

What do successful apprenticeship outcomes look like for employers?

In reality, employers have a broader view of what a successful apprenticeship looks like. Rather than focusing solely on completion, there are a wide range of success indicators that can vary depending on factors like their business size or sector.

These indicators aren’t always immediate either. Some employers will measure success in hindsight, depending on the career path an apprentice has taken. For example:

  • The percentage of apprentices still with the business three to five years after completing their apprenticeship, compared with overall staff turnover numbers
  • The percentage of apprentices promoted internally, particularly at a senior level
  • The levels of employee satisfaction over time, comparing apprentices and other staff

As a training provider, it’s important to understand how employers measure their success and what a good return on investment looks like for them, so you can make sure that you’re delivering against expectations.  

This is the second part of our series on employer perspectives. You can go back and read the first part here: Exploring employer opportunities and barriers to apprenticeship completion.

Success from an employer perspective

St Martin’s Group surveyed 800 businesses that employ apprentices and found that the most common success factors relate to progression, with the apprentice either moving into a permanent role in the business or being promoted. In contrast, employers were less likely to view apprentices staying in the same role as a useful success indicator. 

Employers also identified a number of business benefits as wider success indicators of apprenticeships. The chance to bring relevant knowledge and skills into the business, improve staff retention and increase productivity levels are all seen as markers of success.

What indicates a successful apprenticeship for employers?

  1. The apprentice moves into a permanent job in their company (37%)

  2. The apprentice is promoted within their company (36%)

  3. The apprentice has gained knowledge and skills relevant to the business (35%)

  4. Staff retention has improved as a result of the apprenticeship (32%)

  5. Productivity levels have improved as a result of the apprenticeship (29%)

  6. Staff engagement and morale has improved as a result of the apprenticeship (28%)

  7. Skills shortages in the business have been reduced or addressed (27%)

  8. The apprentice has provided cost-effective labour or good value for money (27%)

  9. The apprentice stays in the same industry (even if they move on to another organisation) (27%)

  10. The apprentice has gone on to fill a critical vacancy in their business (27%)

Priorities for different groups of employers

While every employer’s needs will be slightly different, there are valuable insights to take away about how different groups of employers tend to view success. 

These insights can not only help you to predict potential roadblocks in advance but also find ways to deliver above expectations. What reporting data will they want to see? How much flexibility are they looking for in their training provider? All of these considerations can provide the foundation for a more successful working relationship.

The survey shows that small employers are more likely to define success as apprentices gaining relevant knowledge and skills than medium-sized employers (40% compared to 30%). In contrast, large employers are more likely to prioritise reducing or addressing skills shortages and increasing workforce diversity. 

For employers who hire five or fewer apprentices, there’s particular emphasis on how they meet business needs. These employers are more likely to define success as the apprentice moving into a permanent role in the business (45%), followed by gaining relevant skills (40%) and improving client satisfaction (29%).

Delivering relevant knowledge and skills

Measuring success by completion isn’t going away anytime soon – the government recently reaffirmed their commitment to the 67% achievement rate target. However, accepting that there are multiple indicators for success can help you deliver more positive outcomes for each employer.

A common priority across the board is for apprentices to gain knowledge and skills that are relevant to the employer’s business. Emerging artificial intelligence tools could prove to be transformative in this case, allowing providers to refresh curriculums quickly and inspiring better learner engagement with training materials.

It’s also important to maintain an open dialogue with employers, so you can build an in-depth understanding of their sector and skills gaps, and look ahead to future requirements.

For example, a report from WorldSkills UK put a spotlight on the severe skills gaps in manufacturing, where 55% are experiencing shortages in advanced manufacturing skills and even more (61%) in traditional manufacturing skills. However, the report noted that employers are also increasingly seeking “meta skills” like curiosity, intuition and innovation, in order to help young people adapt to advances in technology.

Finally, ensure you’ve got a robust reporting system set up so that employers can track the progress of their apprentices. You want to be able to issue real-time updates for areas like engagement monitoring and progress reviews, to keep them engaged with their employee’s learning.

Building a productive long-term relationship

A strong, collaborative relationship between training providers and employers is vital for supporting learners through their apprenticeships. 

By understanding an employer’s challenges and unique metrics for success, training providers can ensure they offer the right guidance and consistently deliver against expectations. This should help to create a productive long-term partnership that leads to better outcomes for apprentices.

Here’s a quick reminder of some of the steps you should take:

  1. Set clear expectations of responsibilities, so employers recognise how they need to support apprentices

  2. Hold regular meetings with employers and learners which focus on the learner’s needs rather than simply giving updates

  3. Offer useful training resources and apprenticeship guidance for employers where relevant

  4. Use reports to keep employers informed on the progress of their learners

  5. Maintain an open line of communication with employers to understand skills requirements for the future

Achieve exceptional outcomes with Bud

Bud is an end-to-end solution that streamlines apprenticeship management and delivery. Our intuitive platform provides a seamless experience for learners, employers and trainers, which is why we’re trusted by providers across the UK.

Want to see Bud in action? Book a discovery call now.